Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson Save It for the Stage

Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson Save It for the Stage


In a recent interview, the duo spoke about some starry-eyed encounters with their cultural heroes and how the #MeToo movement has affected comedy. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How did the two of you meet and start working together?

PHOEBE ROBINSON I was doing background work for a “Daily Show” piece she was doing on black women’s hair, which is very apropos for us.

JESSICA WILLIAMS It’s our brand. I had known about her because I came up at U.C.B. L.A. and she came up at U.C.B. New York. My birthday was coming up, and she was like, “What’s something you’ve always wanted to do?” I was like, “Well, I’ve always wanted to try stand-up.” She invited me to co-host her live show, and we just had a ton of fun. We were like, “Whoa.”

ROBINSON It was like a great first date. I changed my status to “It’s complicated.”

Given all the time you spend together, how do you keep things spontaneous for your shows?

WILLIAMS We’re always trying to surprise each other. Sometimes we save stories about ourselves for when we’re doing a show.

ROBINSON We recorded a podcast where we both, within the same week, had racist experiences with cabdrivers in New York. We were like, “Let’s save this for the stage.” Sometimes it syncs up, like periods. When she met J. K. Rowling, she told me a little bit, but she was like, “I want to save it for when I do the podcast.”

What was it like to meet J. K. Rowling?

WILLIAMS I wanted to be cute but chic. I wanted to imply that I was a wizard, so I wore this little two-piece. It was wild and hilarious. But also, she [Phoebe] met Bono.

ROBINSON We did a show at Bonnaroo and U2 was headlining. The night before, we got invited to this charity dinner, and they were like, “Bono might be there.” So I’m like, “I’m going to dress like a tasteful ho.”

WILLIAMS A conservative thot.

ROBINSON I’m not trying to break up a marriage, but I do want a second glance. He didn’t attend, but we met some other people who were like, “They’re doing a sound check tonight. Do you guys want to come?” I immediately started crying.

WILLIAMS We were going to see “Wonder Woman.” I had definitely already bought the tickets. It was immediately like, “Oh, cool, our date is canceled.”

ROBINSON I got to go see this dude. It was so unfeminist. [Shows off a photo of Bono embracing her.]

How did you pitch this series to HBO?

ROBINSON First of all, we were like, “We’re going to be greedy and ask for four specials. And also during Black History Month.”

WILLIAMS Also, we’d like a hair budget.

ROBINSON We were like, “Maybe we’ll change this and add all this stuff to it,” and HBO was like, “Can you guys just do what you do in the podcast?” They liked our banter back and forth and the fact that we have female comedians, people of color, queer comedians on. And then we do fun celebrity interviews.

Since you focus on performers who are underrepresented in comedy, did you feel more pressure about whom you chose to be in these specials?

ROBINSON We just wanted to make sure it was a grab bag. I feel like we had 12 stand-ups on and no one’s set sounds like anyone else’s. Everyone has a very distinct point of view, and that was ultimately the most important thing for us.

WILLIAMS We’re funny, but for every couple of black ladies that are funny, there are a million other black ladies that are also very funny. So it’s cool to be like, “Hey, homies, come hang out.” More like that than “C’mon, we’re going to give you a shot, kid.”

A lot of sexual misconduct by prominent male comedians and other entertainers has been exposed in recent months. How has that affected you and your colleagues?

ROBINSON I’ve experienced harassment. I’ve had male comedians be very inappropriate. And when people are revealed to be what’s been rumored, but they’ve been protected for so long, it is good to see that person extracted out. There’s so many careers that didn’t happen because women are like, “I can’t deal with this harassment. I’m going to leave this industry.” What’s happening right now — dismantling these icons we’ve built up — is really good, especially when it’s men who are fighting really hard to be feminists, but they’re secretly doing very inappropriate behavior. That’s distracting to the actual feminist movement.

How do we make sure the gains of the #MeToo movement are preserved?

ROBINSON What’s important is to have more women creators behind the scenes, being producers and being in charge. That will ultimately help push this boys’ club, locker-room mentality out the door. You’re not going to be protected, so you have to act appropriately.

When your celebrity guests are brought out on “2 Dope Queens,” you seem as excited as your audience. Were you especially thrilled to meet Sarah Jessica Parker?

WILLIAMS We’re geeking out just as much as everybody else. If somebody walks out that you genuinely love like that, and you’re not excited, you’re doing it wrong.

ROBINSON I’m still wearing her perfume. I’m trying to get her to be our friend. We’ve got to wear her perfume, buy her shoes.

WILLIAMS Get the cookies from Costco that she likes.

ROBINSON I can’t believe she shops at Costco. Was that a lie?

WILLIAMS She would never lie to us.

In your individual careers, Jessica, you have a role in the next “Fantastic Beasts” movie.

WILLIAMS I do. I’m so excited.

ROBINSON We’re also in “Black Panther.”

WILLIAMS We’re not in this one, per se, but stay after the credits. We might be in your theater.



Source link

About The Author

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *